A simple nipple shield that prevents HIV transmission from a breast-feeding mother to her child has been devised by a Cambridge University engineer.
Stephen Gerrard, a chemical engineer, has helped devise the shield that can disinfect milk as it leaves the breast.
The device uses a detergent used by biochemists to denature proteins for analysis.
A layer of cotton-wool soaked in the chemical is added to a conventional shield and this deactivates the virus.
The layer deals with the virus without having to go through heat treatment which is the normal treatment to deactivate the HIV virus.
The International Design Development Summit (IDDS) in the United States brought together engineers and field workers to work on research projects aimed at developing prototype designs.
Mr Gerrard, together with a team of five others, was assigned the task of creating a practical design for heating breast milk to deactivate the virus.
“We quickly established this may be too lengthy a process for many women in developing countries so they might not have the time for it,” he said.
“Research has shown that copper and copper compounds can work but another approach, carried out by a group at Drexel University seemed more promising.
“Their research has focused on sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS), which can kill the HIV virus quickly and in fairly non-toxic concentrations.”
Their project could also have benefits beyond prevention of HIV.
“We were concerned that using our nipple shield could be stigmatizing, since it would identify a mother as HIV infected,” said Mr Gerrard.
“We’re considering marketing it as a way to deliver medicines or micronutrient supplements to aid breast feeding. For example, they can also be used for iron or iodine deficiency.”
In the past two days two gay men who claimed their lives would be in danger if they were returned to their home countries have been forcibly repatriated.
Ugandan John Nyombi was deported on a flight in Entebbe on Friday evening. His supporters in the UK say he is now in hiding from police.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission issued an action alert on Thursday because of the escalating violence against LGBT people in Uganda.
Mr Nyombi’s solicitors believe that the deportation was “an illegal act of the UK Border Agency.”
Babakhan Badalov, known as Babi, was deported from Heathrow yesterday afternoon on a British Midlands Airways (BMI) flight to Baku.
A reknowned artist, he claimed his sexual orientation and his public opposition to the Azerbaijani government put his life in risk.
His supporters say his removal contradicts UK Border Agency rules as they changed the details of his forced removal at the last minute and did so on a Saturday.
They also claim a border agent said to Mr Badalov before he was deported: “You make us sick, you’re going back where you belong.”
Despite a campaign that successfully persusaded Azerbaijan Airlines not to transport Mr Badalov, BMI agreed to repatriate him.
Gay rights acitivst Peter Tatchell said he recently met Deputy Prime Minister Harriet Harman and she and Barbara Follett, Equalities Minister, agreed to “examine and assist in the correction of any unfair treatment of LGBT asylum applicants.”
Activists have called for a boycott of BMI.
gayasylumuk criticised the government today.
“Gay and lesbian Labour voters in particular consider changing their vote if the [LGBT asylum] policy isn’t changed before the next election,” the group said.
“This is one way to get the message through on their hypocrisy regarding lesbian and gay rights issues — when embassies in other countries are flying the rainbow flag they aren’t doing this in Tehran, Kingston or Kampala.”
Earlier this year the rainbow flag, a symbol of the LGBT community, flew during Pride in two eastern European nations from the British Embassy as a show of support.